“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying…” (Matthew 5:2), and these sayings became the most famous sermon ever preached. The Sermon on the Mount.
And from this mount comes one of the most self-defeating verses in the Bible, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) Did you hear that? Jesus says unless your righteousness trumps the scribes and Pharisees, there is no hope for you. And trust me, your righteousness doesn’t even come close to their’s. Therefore, if they weren’t good enough, neither are you.
In fact, if you read the whole sermon with honestly you come away admitting, “I cannot do, what Christ commands me to do.” And that my friend is the most self-defeating and self-liberating message in the whole world. Because only when you see that you cannot keep this radical Kingdom ethic, will you turn your eyes to see the only one who can, and the only one who did.
So how good must you be to “see the Kingdom of heaven?” Perfect. And if your honest with yourself, you realize you are far from perfect. So what hope is there? The hope is this; the one who demands perfection, is the one who earned perfection for you, and gives it to you by faith in Him. Therefore, coming to Jesus is admitting you can’t keep the ethical requirements of the Kingdom, but He did, and in Him so have you.
And now that you are in Him, you have a new heart that beats to the rhythm of the new Kingdom ethic. So now you are salt and light. You are persecuted blessed ones, who turn cheeks and suffer wrong so that others can see right. For you are the guilty ones, who have nailed your guilt to the cross and buried it in the tomb, and three days later received righteousness forevermore. And now you have a righteousness that makes the Pharisees seem demonic, for you have the very righteousness of Christ.